I run multiple businesses, from a business school and VC firm to an NGO and a pro-basketball team. Oh, and I have five sons to look after. In short, I’m pretty busy.

That means I need to think very carefully how to assign my time.

My whole attitude to time management changed when I was around thirty.

Back then, I was working around the clock to build my business. Eventually I realized that the only way for me to use my time effectively was not just by prioritizing my activities, but by proactively deciding what not to do.

That is why I took a decision to STOP doing a whole load of things. I stopped going out for business dinners. I stopped playing golf. I stopped reading non-fiction. I stopped watching TV. I stopped long-distance commuting by moving to a house just three minutes’ walk from the office.

“Editing” or “curating” my life like this certainly made my workload more manageable.

My attitude to time management then went through a second change when I was around forty.

With three little boys around the house, I realized that I needed to ease up on working and “reclaim” more of my time for myself and my family.

I invested some of this new free time in fun things—mastering the board game Go, doing competitive swimming and, most recently, snowboarding.

After all, effective time management should apply to your whole life, not just to your work.

These days, people often compliment me on my “well balanced” life with its harmonious mix of work and leisure activities.

Although it’s nice to be complimented, these people are quite wrong. I spent my twenties studying—and playing—hard at business school, and (as mentioned earlier) worked like a dog throughout my thirties. Single-mindedly focused on growing my business, I had zero time for family or hobbies. I was overweight and exhausted. My life was wildly out of balance.

Since turning 40, all I’ve done is to take back some of what I sacrificed when I was younger. What’s the result? Certain earlier decades of my life were indeed extremely out of balance. However, my life as a whole is starting to balance out very nicely.

If you want to achieve anything big, the chances are your life will get seriously out of balance for a while. But if you take a long-term perspective, you can catch up later and restore the balance over your entire life span.

So, if you want to be a better manager of your time, I suggest you try the following simple steps.

1. Identify things you don’t have to do. STOP doing them.

2. Find things you’ve always wanted to do. DO them after you’ve made the necessary time.

3. Consider work-life balance from a “whole life span” perspective.

In the comments section below, why don’t you tell us things you have stopped doing? Or new, fun things that you’ve taken up later in life? I’m always keen to hear how people have “curated” their lives to make them better and more balanced.

Photo by InesBazdar